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Beresford Caiman vs ASUS Xonar Essence

Wharfedale EVO4.4 Speaker

thevortex

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Folks, I would like your thoughts whether based on experience or based on empirical findings as to which of the above mentioned two solutions is best for music in a dedicated Music PC.
 

suprateep

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well its different comparing a hilsha and a chingri:lol: though both are fishes.

The thing is (i can comment on the Essence better since i have heard the Bereford 7510 only) if a lot of work has gone into building a music PC taking care on the power source, lesser use of addon cards for graphics etc and suitable treatment for fan and processor noise has been done - the STX will give great musical feedback although it will be analytical with the reproduction.

The beresford will be a better match for 80% of the pople who would just take a digital out from say something like the playstations, WD TVs or the popcorn hours and get good sound.

While the capability of both be changed with use of opamps - the sound quality is subjective - many like the NAD sound, others the openness of Marantz, some others the transparency of the CA an so on.

Its difficult to chose actually (wrt to a certain setup yes one may sound better than the other but.....for a 1 to 1 comparison there are no winners)
 

thevortex

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Thanks Supra. Let me narrow down the vista a bit. I listen to mostly Indian Classical, Vocals, Jazz, blues, instrumentals and film music.

And I am talking about a scenario where I am at a fork in the road. I have a PC with a decent power supply and all other internal components. Now I can either go the route of the Caiman or the route of the Xonar Essence. Which one is better for my kind of music?

And no, I am not talking about taking a digital out at all. In any case it is going to be an analog out that is taken out and given to an integrated amplifier.
 

suprateep

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Thanks Supra. Let me narrow down the vista a bit. I listen to mostly Indian Classical, Vocals, Jazz, blues, instrumentals and film music.

And I am talking about a scenario where I am at a fork in the road. I have a PC with a decent power supply and all other internal components. Now I can either go the route of the Caiman or the route of the Xonar Essence. Which one is better for my kind of music?

And no, I am not talking about taking a digital out at all. In any case it is going to be an analog out that is taken out and given to an integrated amplifier.

i understand your dilemma actually. I was making digital out of my mobo (i don't know whether your mobo has it) into my onkyo 606 - was torn between a Xonar STX/HDAV for my HTPC or take digital out from the PC into a external DAC like beresford or DACmagic and then into an amp. Luck came my way when my friend handed over his STX (for free usage for a couple of months) till he came from onsite (with the option of me buying it for 60-70% of the price if i liked it).

Now I have used the Xonar STX with different amps starting form the MiniWatt, Norge 1000, Denon PMA 500/700 and even the onkyo 606 - my take is with the Xonar STX the music is very critical and badly mastered music sounds bad but good quality music has great soundstage, good feedback and very well spaced out reproduction - sometimes its very critical so that in an orchestra say each musical instrument is so clearly distinguishable that it seems kinda weird first time - then you get used to to it. Its neutral and transparent to the point of sounding dry sometimes with some genres of music

DACs somehow have a signature (don't kill me for that) - the beresford 7510 and DAC magic sounded different with the same setup. Not saying that the beresford is bad in any way or the STX is good - a lot will depend on your equipment too.

What equipment do you have?
What kind of music do you listen to?
What is your budget
 

moserw

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Depends...
I've used Beresford and it made even MP3s on the PC sound good. To some that's a good thing and to some its bad.

I'm presently using the Asus Xonar Essence STX and its on the other side of the spectrum wherein it strips down everything and reveals what has been recorded like it really is. In terms of specs too the Asus Essence is way ahead of the pack.

Knowing personally about your quest for the perfect sound and the perfect player I would say the Asus wins hands down.

Like Supra said the folks with WDTV, Popcorn Hour, PS3 and the like will appreciate the ease of use of a DAC, not fiddlers like us.

On the other hand if you really want to explore or go the route of an external DAC then look for something better than a Beresford. For starters something like the Peachtree Audio Nova, Buffalo, etc. Since you are already using an Asus SC, the Beresford is not really going to be that much of an improvement.

A friend is getting the Benchmark and I will be checking it out in a couple of weeks. Will keep you posted.
 

thevortex

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Supra - I have a NAD C372 with EPOS M12.2 speakers. And as you know I am using Xonar D2X sound card.

As of now however I am thinking more on the lines of a Valve preamplifier! I finally did go to Rajiv's place for an audition of his valve amplifier. I went there armed with my HTPC and my speakers. So that possibly the only two variables there were the valve amp and the room itself. Suffice it to say the valve sound captivated us (I was there with another member Ramanunjam and his brother).

A more detailed review I plan to write in the 'Valve amplifiers' thread soon.

Yes - Moser, I too have come to the decision that the next jump ought to be higher and wider. No sense is spending so much for minuscule improvement - if that.
 

thevortex

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The card you presently have should be fine as a transport. In conjunction with your earlier threads where you have thought of exploring tubes and more 'euphonic' gear, I would steer you towards NOS DACs like the Audiosector 1543 or the Valab (this I've not heard). They have a slightly more analog sound (less detailed, more rolled off) which may suit your tastes better.

Thanks Cranky - that too is an option which I am entertaining. I will be posting my thoughts on the valve amplifier listening session Rajiv's place in the 'Valve amplifiers' thread. At the end of it, lets see what options still remain standing for me:)
 
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